- - Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Homeless radio man briefly held by police

LOS ANGELES | Ted Williams, the Ohio homeless man whose smooth radio voice made him an Internet sensation, had to do some quick talking to Los Angeles police.

Officers were called when Mr. Williams and his daughter got into a heated argument Monday night at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa, Officer Catherine Massey said.

“I don’t know how loud they were,” but the argument at about 9 p.m. led to a disturbance report, Officer Massey said Tuesday.

“It was minor. Both parties were angry, but there were no signs of visible abuse,” she said. “They were brought in, calmed down, talked to and released.”

She said she did not know the nature of the argument.

NEW YORK

Verizon to start selling iPhone

NEW YORK | Verizon Wireless made the long-awaited announcement Tuesday that it will start selling a version of the iPhone 4 on Feb. 10, giving U.S. iPhone buyers a choice of carriers for the first time.

New Yorker Wes Moe can’t wait. He has wanted one to accompany his iPad and Mac, but held back because he shares a Verizon plan with his wife, a BlackBerry user.

“I’m super happy with all those other Apple devices, and I want that phone in my hands,” said Mr. Moe, 32.

In the U.S., the iPhone has been exclusive to AT&T Inc. since it launched in 2007, frustrating many people who for one reason or another haven’t wanted an AT&T phone.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked and my colleagues have been asked. When will the iPhone work on the Verizon network?” said Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, at Tuesday’s launch event.

Orders for existing Verizon customers will start Feb. 3. The price will be $200 or $300 with a two-year contract, about the same as the iPhone through AT&T.

PENNSYLVANIA

Tour guide tests weighed by court

PHILADELPHIA | A federal appeals court appeared unlikely to overturn a city law requiring tour guides to pass a history test in Philadelphia, if only because the city lacks funds to even draft the test.

Three tour guides in the nation’s birthplace are challenging the law on free-speech grounds. They argue that the government cannot limit legal speech, or even the occasionally skewed fact.

“The First Amendment protects your right to communicate for a living, and that’s true whether you’re a tour guide or a newspaper reporter or a standup comedian,” said lawyer Robert J. McNamara, who represents the guides.

Mr. McNamara insists his clients are well-versed in history and could pass any test the city coughed up. They would not fight a voluntary test that came with bragging rights in the form of a certificate, he said, but they think a mandatory test amounts to licensing speech.

He works for the libertarian Institute of Justice, an Arlington, Va.-based organization that fights eminent-domain cases and other claims of government intrusions. Its clients include a group of wood-carving monks challenging a Louisiana law that limits casket sales to funeral directors.

Several other cities, including Washington, D.C.; New Orleans; and Savannah, Ga., test and license tour guides.

TEXAS

Fat cleanup finished in channel

HOUSTON | The Coast Guard says crews have finished clearing the Houston Ship Channel of solidified beef fat that leaked from a tank on shore.

Petty Officer Richard Brahm says the cleanup was completed Monday, six days after some of the 250,000 gallons of leaking fat reached the water, creating floating lumps of fat resembling icebergs.

Petty Officer Brahm said Tuesday the ship channel was open and traffic was moving. The leak was detected Jan. 4, forcing the temporary closure of part of the channel.

The Coast Guard said about 15,000 gallons reached the channel through a storm drain. The liquid fat became solid when it came into contact with the cold water.

The Coast Guard says the tank is owned by Jacob Sterns and Sons and that the company cooperated on the cleanup.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports